Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reality is Radical

Sometimes my family members are "treated" to people recognizing our odd last name and connecting them with me. This happened to a relative of mine today. Fortunately, most people who say something actually mostly agree with the things of mine they have read. Perhaps most people would rather avoid conflict.

Today, my relative told the person who commented that she thinks I am "pretty radical on some things".

Radical. Yes, I am, and for a good reason. The truth is radical. Sticking to the truth is radical. Accepting nothing less than the truth is radical. Reality is radical.

Don't believe me?

Look at gravity. Gravity is radical. It is "extremist" by nature. It makes no exceptions, no matter who you are, and no matter how you might beg or complain. It cares nothing about how good your reasons might be to make an exception "just this one time". It operates according to the same rules everywhere at all times (as far as science has been able to determine). Even when you think gravity is being defeated, it really isn't. Flight depends upon gravity, as does space travel and navigation, and even the "weightlessness" of orbit. You might as well learn to use gravity to your ends rather than fighting it.

So it is with liberty. To be consistent, you must be radical. Anything less is ... well, less.



  1. Another clean and crisp statement.

  2. So (to paraphrase Trotsky) not believing in individual autonomy is like not believing in gravity?

  3. sofa- Thanks.

    KenK- Yes. And not believing that liberty - the freedom to live within your rights- is the best way to exercise your individual autonomy is just as bad.

  4. The problem with being an extremist about reality is you don't get to decide in advance what ideas win. That alone trips up many. Even many of those who could have written the previous sentence don't seem to understand it.

    Then there's second order, of thinking that if you let reality decide once, you're good. "I did respect reality, you're just trying to trick me." Instead, one has to always have in mind the falsification condition - to always know how reality can tell you you're wrong, and the 'why' of that 'how.'

    The second order is especially pernicious when common sense was right in the first place, as it requires that one flip-flops.

    In the third order, it may even be possible that being a reality extremist is unwise - either for particular individuals or even in general.

  5. I was kinda thinking in terms of reality being "an extremist" in spite of our wishful thinking, rather than being an extremist in how we view reality. But I think I see your point, too.

  6. I learned something! Society will usually find reality 'extremist.'

    1: The epistemic difficulties I outlined above.
    2: Most acquire their beliefs by social pressure, for example the 10% rule.

    On average, an individual's belief on any particular subject will be wrong. Any new individual will see an aggregate of mainly-wrong beliefs and will usually adopt it. Society will then see that belief as normal - and reality as extreme.

  7. quite a fundamental truth that the truth is radical. of course, it's only radical to the droves of folks who cannot (or will not) think for themselves.

  8. To be fair, thinking for yourself is nowhere near as easy as it is made out to be. It's not like you wake up, get a cup of coffee, and decide to make reason your highest authority.

    For example, Zelig, have you checked that your reasons for believing that truth is radical are actually reasonable? Have you checked that this accords with the historical cause of adopting that belief?